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Hello, Jet Lag!

January 15, 2014

Ahhh life, you keep me on my toes!

Where to start? I arrived safely in Moscow early this morning and am now all snug and cozy back home in my apartment. But let’s back up a few days…

After some [always] teary goodbyes, and some elation over the fact that I got a wonderful guy at check in who gave my my two checked bags free [maybe they finally changed their policy about those of us with United Mileage credit cards? He did mention it…] and he also let my 54 pound bag slide even though he didn’t really want to, I left Los Angeles at around 5 PM and headed for London. When I got on board, the captain mentioned that our usually 10.5 hour flight would only be 9 hours and 40 minutes! THAT was cause for more excitement AND I also happened to get a whole row to myself. Our flight was very empty, and that always makes for a nice flight. It was probably the nicest flight I’ve ever been on and I was so thankful to stretch out and sleep.

After arriving [early] in London, I made my way through immigration, sat down to use the free wifi to let Katy know I was on my way and then found the place to check my carry on luggage for a few hours [ugh, not so cheap anymore – last time I was in London was 2.5 years ago so, guess things change – $30.00 to keep 2 bags for a few hours!], and made my way down to the tube to buy a round trip ticket to Picadilly Circus to meet my friend [at almost $15.00 round trip it made me miss my inexpensive Moscow metro!] We were only part of the way along our journey when I realized there was no way I’d make it to Picadilly Circus by 12:30, the time I had told her I’d be there. I tried every way I could think of to get a hold of her, but by the time I thought of trying to text a friend to ask her to contact Katy, we were on the underground part of the trip and I never again got phone signal to send it. I hate making people wait and I was just sure she’d be wandering around trying to find me and then give up and go home. I also imagined her standing outside freezing waiting for me and I just felt terrible. So I was so relieved to show up at the exit and see her standing on the other side of the gates!

After stopping to grab some food at Pret A Manger, we wandered this street and that street and my sleepy brain can’t remember all the things we saw, but we ended up at Camden Market which I had never been to before. We wandered the different aisles and checked out different shops and of course it’s a fun, colorful place to take pictures. It was so nice to catch up with Katy and just wander around London and see new places I’d never been to before. I just love London, there’s so much to see and do!


Typical London as seen on Old Bond Street [London’s priciest shopping street]


Hanging out with some doormen



Interesting homes along the canal


I’m a sucker for cute store displays


Wouldn’t it be “lovely” to attend a school like this? =)


Along the road to Camden Market



Fun buildings, fun reflections


Lots of color! My friend Katy, shopping.







A unique way to eat a meal


Wandering along the canal


Still wandering along the canal

We ended the day back at her cute flat with Mexican food [awesome!] and then they walked me down to the closest tube stop. I am so glad I left for the airport when I did [at her recommendation] because I didn’t have too much time to spare by the time I got there, got my bags and made it back through security and to my gate. [Note to anyone with a Heathrow layover who wants to go see London: It will take you a LONG time to get back to the airport so plan accordingly. Especially if, like me, you have to grab bags from one terminal and make your way to another terminal. It takes a while to get around Heathrow!] I left London at 6 pm to get to my 9:35 flight and made it with about 30 minutes to spare.

In typical Russian fashion, people were already storming the gate long before time to board and I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough room overhead for my rolling carryon when I got on. BUT, again we didn’t have a full flight and the gate attendant was even able to move me to a 2 seat row that was empty! That was so wonderful. Just having extra space beside you, and no one to bother when you need to get up, makes traveling so much better.

AND, this flight to Moscow was shorter than I expected! [about 3.5 hours] I had had some reservations about my early arrival into London and then late departure from London [ie a recipe for luggage mishaps if there ever was one] and sure enough, one of my checked bags didn’t arrive when I finally made it through immigration and over to the baggage area. After waiting until the last bag had arrived, and being sent around to various personnel at the airport, we finally conceded that it wasn’t there. I had been asking for an English speaker so I could try and explain that due to my early arrival and late departure, the box was probably sitting somewhere, but they kept telling me there wasn’t anyone. And now I had to figure out how to get my bag later [hopefully] entirely in Russian? I was SO thankful when they deposited me in an office in front of a woman who, when I asked, Вы говорите по-английски? responded with a yes! And her English was good enough that we could have a real conversation and figure this out. I was so tired and sad by this point that I just started crying when she said yes. I think it was partly from relief and partly that the entire situation was sinking in that I might not get this box which held so many things that I needed and carefully shopped for and packed and weighed and wrapped up in tape and… I dried my tears and gave her the things she asked for. After lots of paperwork and running to customs to get the proper stamps, she gave me a paper with my case number and told me they’d call if it was found, and that was it.

On my way out I stopped to snap a picture of this spilled alcohol in the baggage area. There were about 4 spots just like this, in various places around the baggage area, and no one was bothering to clean it up (it had been there for hours, the entire time I was waiting for my bag!) but the cleaning lady was methodically mopping the seemingly clean office floor just next to this area. It made me sigh as I walked out. These were the people, the problem solvers, who were dealing with my lost bag. And just like how  no one seemed to notice the importance of first mopping up this smelly safety hazard, before mopping clean office floors, I wondered if they would notice the importance of getting me back my bag, or if it would sit in the corner while people couldn’t be bothered with the hassle that it would be to drive it all the way up to my apartment? It didn’t give me confidence as I walked out to haggle with taxis to get me home.


I wandered out, pushing my heavy cart [my overweight suitcase had come in, after all] towards the exit while enthusiastic taxi drivers all tried to get me to go with them. Usually I push past them with the explanation that my friend is waiting and I don’t need a taxi. However, this time I DID need a taxi. So began the haggling process. I was pretty sure that if I exited the airport there would be taxis waiting outside. However, one man made me pause when he told me once I exited the airport I couldn’t come back in, and that there were no taxis outside. It was still very dark and cold-looking outside and I didn’t relish the thought of standing out there with no way to get home. I looked out the window and couldn’t see any of the taxis I thought should be there, so I agreed, finally, to pay more than I had wanted. And then as we exited and made the long, slushy stroll to where this “taxi” was, I looked back and saw the line of taxis waiting in front of the airport [those who had dropped people off and were now waiting to head back into Moscow]. I kicked myself and looking back, had I been more fully awake, I should have dropped this guy and walked back to grab a real taxi, but I didn’t. Maybe God knew he needed the tract and Bible/God talk he got from me on the way home, ha. Anyways, part of the reason, the taxi driver had told me, that the price was higher was because he had to pay for parking. But then as we exited, he backed up and waited for another car to pay and drive through and then he shot through behind them, only getting a slight bump on the top of the car from the rail coming down on it. I asked him “do I get my 100 rubles back now that you didn’t have to pay parking?” He only laughed.

After getting home at almost 8 AM and lugging all my stuff up and into the apartment, I discovered that my bedroom door jam was now looser (?) due to the cooler temps and now not only was the door NOT hard to shut, it was so loose that my door wouldn’t stay shut and kept swinging open! I decided to use the lock on the door [that I had never used before] to keep it shut.


The lock

After locking the door to keep it shut, I grabbed some things for a much anticipated shower, smeared some olive oil makeup remover on my face, and headed for the shower. I tried to unlock and open the door and nothing happened. I tried again, turning it harder, but still nothing. Maybe I was turning it the wrong way? I tried turning it back and forth again and again, it was turning but the lock wasn’t moving. The little black button kept popping out, but I had no idea what, if anything, it had to do with the lock. So I tried pushing it in and turning the lock. Pulling it out and turning the lock. Nothing. I started to slightly panic. Not only was I stuck in my room, my face was smeared with olive oil, which by now was starting to get in my eyes and make them sting, but I had no water in my room. Not even to drink. Of course that made me thirsty! I considered climbing out my balcony window (on the second story) with my apartment key and coming in the front door, but that would mean my room was still locked and I would definitely not be able to unlock it from the other side! I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the screws on the door jam and wondered if I could possibly unscrew them and take the lock off the door. But the screws were set so far into the lock that nothing I had could get in that far [and no, I don’t have a screwdriver, maybe it’s time to get one.] I sat down on my bed and prayed “Ok God, I do want my bag back, but right now, I REALLY want to get out of this room and you are going to have to do it because I have no idea how.” I finally got out my laptop and thought, “ok, I guess now I google ‘how to unlock old Soviet locks'” and see if anything shows how to open these locks, because apparently there is a trick.” As I sat down I decided to just try to call my roommate [who I thought was still in America.] I called her and praise the Lord, she answered!! I have never been so happy to hear her voice. After explaining what happened, she told me, “oh, you shouldn’t have done that [locked it].” I thought “wonderful!” Ha. Then she told me it had happened to her before and she told me to push the door in really hard and unlock it. After the first try nothing happened, but when I tried again, it OPENED! To say I was relieved would be an understatement.

I was so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted that after a wonderful shower, and against my better judgement, I jumped into bed at about 9:45 AM to sleep – and I slept until 9 PM! A wonderful recipe for jet lag. I rarely have jet lag because I never let myself do that, but this time I just had to. So now it’s midnight and I am wide awake, and starving (no food in the house) so until I can bundle up and walk down to the 24 hour grocery store, I am sitting here eating peanut M&Ms.

The past 3 days have been quite interesting and I have to say, things can get slightly boring now if they want to. I won’t mind!

P.S. If you think of it, friends, please pray my box is found and that they do really deliver it to me! I know God knows exactly where it is, so I just pray that sympathetic airport personnel really do care and send it along when it’s found!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2014 1:12 pm

    What an adventure! I’m SO sorry about your missing box. BOOO! And I can’t imagine my feelings when realizing it wasn’t there, the relief of an English-speaker, and the trouble of getting locked in my bedroom! Yikes! Glad you’re “home” safe and sound. Hopefully your jet lag gets resolved quickly. I’ll be praying that they find your box!

    • January 15, 2014 2:41 pm

      Thank you! After a quick run down to the 24 hour grocery store (at 1 AM in 14 degree weather, ha) and some food + looking up my luggage on British Airway’s site and seeing they found it (now, getting it delivered to my apt will take more prayers but at least they found it!), I am feeling much better (the 11 hour nap helped too). But it’s almost 2 AM and I am not the least bit sleepy and there’s so much to do here to get caught up…so not too sure how quickly I’ll get back on Moscow time but…

  2. January 23, 2014 5:54 pm

    What an adventure! And the Lord trusts you with it…YAHOO!!!!! 🙂

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